Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh was all set to receive a confirmation vote until everything was upended by a several-decades-old allegation of sexual misconduct from when the judge was a high school student.
The confirmation process has now ground to a halt as Senate Democrats and attorneys for the accuser, liberal California psychology professor Christine Blasey Ford, call for a full FBI investigation of the vague accusation and wrangle with Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee on the details of a hearing where Ford can make her claims and Kavanaugh can respond to her allegations.
Following a conference call about a hearing on Wednesday evening, the demands set forth by Ford’s attorneys were revealed on Thursday. Some of them were quite absurd and nonstarters, such as the demands that Kavanaugh testify prior to Ford — which would have him answering accusations that hadn’t officially been put on record yet — and that no outside counsel — Kavanaugh’s female attorney — and only committee senators be permitted to question Ford, according to The Hill.
The Republican staff members who took part in that Wednesday night call were said to have listened patiently without putting forward any counteroffers at that time, but as of Friday morning a counteroffer from the Republicans had finally been placed on the negotiating table.
Rather than Thursday, Republicans offered to hold a hearing on Wednesday. Ford would have to testify first — as our adversarial system has always done — and Kavanaugh would testify second in response to Ford’s allegations. Also, special outside counsel would be allowed to ask questions of Ford.
The committee chairman, Sen. Chuck Grassley, had initially set a deadline of 10 a.m. Friday for Ford’s attorneys to reach an agreement on a hearing with the committee, but extended that deadline until late Friday night to accommodate them as they consider the counteroffer.
Politico reported that an unnamed Republican senator with knowledge of the committee’s counteroffer said, “We’ll do it on Wednesday, we expect the accuser before the accused, and we do intend to have the counsel do the questioning.”
The involvement of outside counsel in the questioning — opposed by Ford’s attorneys but insisted upon by Republicans — looks to be a key sticking point in the negotiations.
Considering that all 11 Republican members of the committee are men, Republicans reportedly hoped that the use of a female attorney to question Ford would save the GOP from the potentially bad optics of male senators grilling a female accuser, which is quite possibly why Ford’s attorneys and Democrats are so staunchly against that, as they’d love to exploit those optics for the worst effect.
Two terms set forth by Ford’s attorneys that appear to have been agreed to by the committee included limiting the media to just one pool camera and ensuring that Kavanaugh would not be present in the room when Ford was there to testify.
The committee already had stated that another demand for additional security precautions for Ford would be handled by the security procedures already in place.
However, some Democrats have taken issue with the counteroffer put forward by Republicans and seemed set against ceding any sort of ground in the negotiations.
“They’re making this disingenuous counteroffer knowing she won’t be here,” a Democrat senatorial aide told Politico, apparently oblivious to the entirely disingenuous nature of the initial offer submitted by Ford’s attorneys, full of absurd demands dictating committee procedures that Republicans would be foolish to accept.
Almost as if on cue, Ford’s attorneys has also offered up a new excuse as to why Ford would be unable to attend a hearing prior to next Thursday, citing Ford’s discomfort in confined spaces that would make her unable to fly from California to Washington. She would instead need to drive across the country to attend the hearing.
It remained to be seen late Friday if Ford’s attorneys would accept this counteroffer and agree to the terms for a hearing, or if they would continue to try and haggle over certain specifics in a rather transparent bid to continue delaying the confirmation process from moving forward to a conclusion.
Regardless, if Ford doesn’t show for the eventually agreed-upon hearing, or if no agreement is reached prior to the Friday night deadline, the committee should simply press forward with Kavanaugh’s confirmation and let the chips fall where they may, as Ford and her attorneys and the Democrats who support them will have made it abundantly clear that they have no interest in cooperating or dealing with the situation in a timely fashion.
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